Lottery winners suffer major losses - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Lottery winners suffer major losses

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NBC News--500 million dollars before taxes. That's how much you can win in the Powerball Jackpot.  If you win you can buy you a lot of stuff, but what about happiness? Well it turns out those cliches, money can't buy you happiness, money doesn't make the man, and a fool and his money are easily parted; there's some truth to them. Only about half of lottery winners are happier three years later, says Michael Boone whose Seattle firm advises big lotto winners.

"I think Henry Ford said money doesn't change a person, it simply unmasks them. I think that really is what happens. So people have an opportunity to do all the things they dreamed about, sometimes those are good things and sometimes not. "

Christmas 2002 Jack Whittaker of West Virginia had the only winning ticket in the $314 million lottery jackpot. Two years later his wife said that she wishes she had torn up the ticket. Their lives in shambles, their 17 year-old granddaughter was dead- after struggling with a drug addiction. Whitaker faced multiple lawsuits and was arrested twice for drunken driving.

Abraham Shakespeare of Florida was murdered after winning 31 million dollars. Then there's Amanda Clayton, a young mother who won a million dollars in the Michigan Lottery.  She made headlines when she continued to collect food stamps.  She was found dead of apparent drug overdose. Are these winners unlucky or is there something more? Psychologist Alduan Tartt says big payouts can isolate people, thrust them into a world of wealth that is foreign to them. Long lost family members may hound them.  There's a guilt factor, who to help and who not to.

And there's a funny thing about money and happiness, you may not realize.  You win the lottery and spend a lot of money. What happens is, you get used to having a lot of money and spending a lot of money. So what happens is, you actually have to spend more money to get the same level of happiness.

But what about the lottery winners who do end up happy, what's their secret? Experts say they don't lose their sense of self and they can separate their identity from their money.

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